A few months ago I moved my phone charger out of the bedroom so the phone is not there when I wake up. I also deleted social media apps from my devices. As a family, we decided to create more screen-free time and space in our lives.
The wifi now switches off automatically at certain times during the day, for example when the kids come home from school, and during homework and meal times – which was really annoying until we got used to it.
The reason for the change was that being connected to the internet 24/7 did not make me happy. Looking at the behaviour of my children after they spent time on their devices confirmed that screen time and happiness don’t often go together.
My wife and I decided that more screen-free time should also be applicable to us. As Robert Fulghum said, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you”.
Taking this decision was difficult but it was nothing compared to implementing it. Not always having my smartphone nearby created all sorts of challenges, but it was also a new and positive experience.
It is interesting how much you see and hear when you’re not focussed on a screen (or thinking about what you have just read on your device). What is most important to me is that it feels so good. I hope my children will benefit from sitting less often behind screens and spending more time with family and friends.
If you want to learn more about this topic (even though you will have to use a screen to do so…), have a look at the Ted Talk below ‘Why our screens make us less happy’. Apparently, Steve Jobs’ children were not allowed to use an iPad.
In a thought-provoking Conversations podcast, Richard Fidler interviews social researcher David Gillespie about the addictive nature of social media and the teenage brain. Lastly, the website of the Australian eSafety Commissioner contains a wealth of information and tips about having safe and positive experiences online.